Clinical Review

Reverse Total Shoulder Arthroplasty: Indications and Techniques Across the World

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Reverse total shoulder arthroplasty (RTSA) is a common procedure with indications including rotator cuff tear arthropathy, proximal humerus fractures, and others.1,2 Studies have shown excellent, reliable, short- and mid-term outcomes in patients treated with RTSA for various indications.3-5 Al-Hadithy and colleagues6 reviewed 41 patients who underwent RTSA for pseudoparalysis secondary to rotator cuff tear arthropathy and, at a mean follow-up of 5 years, found significant improvements in range of motion (ROM) as well as age-adjusted Constant and Oxford Outcome scores. Similarly, Ross and colleagues7 evaluated outcomes of RTSA in 28 patients in whom RTSA was performed for 3- or 4-part proximal humerus fractures, and found both good clinical and radiographic outcomes with no revision surgeries at a mean follow-up of 54.9 months. RTSA is performed across the world, with specific implant designs, specifically humeral head inclination, but is more common in some areas when compared with others.3,8,9

The number of RTSAs performed has steadily increased over the past 20 years, with recent estimates of approximately 20,000 RTSAs performed in the United States in 2011.10,11 However, there is little information about the similarities and differences between those patients undergoing RTSA in various parts of the world regarding surgical indications, patient demographics, and outcomes. The purpose of this study is to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis of the RTSA body of literature to both identify and compare characteristics of studies published (level of evidence, whether a conflict of interest existed), patients analyzed (age, gender), and surgical indications performed across both continents and countries. Essentially, the study aims to answer the question, "Across the world, are we treating the same patients?" The authors hypothesized that there would be no significant differences in RTSA publications, subjects, and indications based on both the continent and country of publication.


A systematic review was conducted according to PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analyses) guidelines using a PRISMA checklist.12 A systematic review registration was performed using PROSPERO, the international prospective register of systematic reviews (registration number CRD42014010578).13Two reviewers independently conducted the search on March 25, 2014, using the following databases: Medline, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, SportDiscus, and CINAHL. The electronic search citation algorithm utilized was: (((((reverse[Title/Abstract]) AND shoulder[Title/Abstract]) AND arthroplasty[Title/Abstract]) NOT arthroscopic[Title/Abstract]) NOT cadaver[Title/Abstract]) NOT biomechanical[Title/Abstract]. English language Level I to IV evidence (2011 update by the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine14) clinical studies were eligible. Medical conference abstracts were ineligible for inclusion. All references within included studies were cross-referenced for inclusion if missed by the initial search with any additionally located studies screened for inclusion. Duplicate subject publications within separate unique studies were not reported twice, but rather the study with longer duration follow-up or, if follow-up was equal, the study with the greater number of patients was included. Level V evidence reviews, letters to the editor, basic science, biomechanical and cadaver studies, total shoulder arthroplasty (TSA) papers, arthroscopic shoulder surgery papers, imaging, surgical techniques, and classification studies were excluded.

A total of 255 studies were identified, and, after implementation of the exclusion criteria, 103 studies were included in the final analysis (Figure 1). Subjects of interest in this systematic review underwent RTSA for one of many indications including rotator cuff tear arthropathy, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, posttraumatic arthritis, instability, revision from a previous RTSA for instability, infection, acute proximal humerus fracture, revision from a prior proximal humerus fracture, revision from a prior hemiarthroplasty, revision from a prior TSA, osteonecrosis, pseudoparalysis, tumor, and a locked shoulder dislocation. There was no minimum follow-up or rehabilitation requirement. Study and subject demographic parameters analyzed included year of publication, years of subject enrollment, presence of study financial conflict of interest, number of subjects and shoulders, gender, age, body mass index, diagnoses treated, and surgical positioning. Clinical outcome scores sought were the DASH (Disability of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand), SPADI (Shoulder Pain And Disability Index), Absolute Constant, ASES (American Shoulder and Elbow Score), KSS (Korean Shoulder Score), SST-12 (Simple Shoulder Test), SF-12 (12-item Short Form), SF-36 (36-item Short Form), SSV (Subjective Shoulder Value), EQ-5D (EuroQol-5 Dimension), SANE (Single Assessment Numeric Evaluation), Rowe Score for Instability, Oxford Instability Score, UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles) activity score, Penn Shoulder Score, and VAS (visual analog scale). In addition, ROM (forward elevation, abduction, external rotation, internal rotation) was analyzed. Radiographs and magnetic resonance imaging data were extracted when available. The methodological quality of the study was evaluated using the MCMS (Modified Coleman Methodology Score).15


First, the number of publications per year, level of evidence, and Modified Coleman Methodology Score were tested for association with the calendar year using linear regression. Second, demographic data were tested for association with the continent using Pearson’s chi-square test or ANOVA. Third, indications were tested for association with the continent using Fisher’s exact test. Finally, clinical outcome scores and ROM were tested for association with the continent using ANOVA. Statistical significance was extracted from studies when available. Statistical significance was defined as P < .05.

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